ArtCast: An interview with Edward Clapp of the 20UNDER40 Project (part 1)

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On November - 13 - 2009

Take a listen to Part 1 of this podcast interview with Edward Clapp, Editor and Project Director for 20UNDER40. This conversation is a follow-up on the great discussions we had about emerging leaders in the arts during the 20UNDER40 Blog Salon on ARTSBlog, October 19-23. Edward discusses the initial actions that sparked the idea of 20UNDER40, and recounts some other discussions and debates that took place after he launched the project.

With more than 70 blog posts and 150 reader comments, the Salon offerings can still be found using the tag Salon_Oct_09.

Be sure to check back on ARTSblog for part 2 next Friday!

An Open-Source Arts Field

Posted by Ian David Moss On October - 26 - 2009

I want to express my appreciation to my fellow Salon bloggers last week and everyone who has commented—you’ve given me a lot to think about. Before I go, though, I want to make what seems to me like an essential point. We’ve spent a lot of time in this salon so far talking about problems, but solutions have been somewhat elusive. I think part of the reason is contained within a comment I wrote earlier last week on my Generation Y and the Problem of “Entitlement” post but didn’t realize the true significance of until later:

I think the generational shifts are a related, but separate phenomenon from the concentration of power in our field at the top and the frustration that many feel as a result of it, regardless of generation.

There are really two separate issues we’re talking about here, and that’s why our wires keep getting crossed. On the one hand, we have genuine ways in which Generation Y is different from all the generations that came before, particularly with regard to how technology has impacted our communications habits, our work ethic, our social norms, and most importantly, our expectations for ourselves and others. However, this is NOT the same thing as the second issue: the concentration of power in a few individuals that pushes out other voices, both at an organization level and in the wider field. THAT is not new at all, and in fact is probably in a better place now than it ever has been.

Read the rest of this entry »

I want to congratulate the Emerging Leaders Network, the leaders of the 20UNDER40 project, and other stakeholders who helped make last week’s Emerging Leaders Salon possible. As one of the thousands of visitors reading these Salon posts on ARTSblog last week, I can say I am heartened not only by the keen level of discussion, but also by the great diversity of participants and readers who have commented. I find it striking and encouraging that the arts field always comes together in a united front to make our community stronger, despite the challenges of the economy and changing cultural landscape, as well as strong differing opinions.

These kinds of insightful dialogues between powerhouse voices in the arts field such as Eric Booth and Ramona Baker and vigorous burgeoning leaders such as Edward Clapp and Ruby Classen, make me feel proud of the inherent community the arts bring to us all. I am also humbled at the enormous amount of work so many members, stakeholders, and staff of Americans for the Arts have played over the last ten years to advance new voices in the arts. It was in 1999 at a Winston-Salem Convocation focused on the future of the arts that the Emerging Leader program was born. In just ten short years the Emerging Leader Network has grown from an idea and then a Council to a full-fledged collection of over 1,000 leaders and stakeholders of all levels who are looking to ensure the health of arts leadership. Where our staff once had conference calls with a few emerging leader representatives scattered across the country, our Network now hosts dozens of Creative Conversations from coast to coast—hundreds of emerging leaders deeply engaged in their own communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Following Through / Leading Through

Posted by Erin Hoppe On October - 23 - 2009

It has been truly exciting and invigorating to follow this blogging experience. I have read great ideas (P.A.D.T.H.A.I), felt validated (A Lonely Place to Be), and seen that I have the same basic opinion as others but am there by an entirely different circumstance (Stop Blah, Blah, Blahing…). Indeed this project has shown that emerging leaders have much in common and share many of the same goals, fears, and visions for the future of this field. We are also incredibly diverse and ready for action.

To me one of the most important aspects of professionalism is follow through. Actually get your work done, return emails (sooner rather than 2 weeks later!), remember to attach the file, evaluate the work, use that data to make the next time even better, call the potential partner or new contact you just met, etc etc etc. Of course, this is not always easy as there are only increasing demands on limited time. But one cannot lead if one cannot meet these commitments (and then dream of new projects that require more follow through!)

Read the rest of this entry »

As this week-long web salon comes to a very successful close, I’m sure a lot of people are amped up about the potential we have to impact conceptual change in the field of the arts and arts education. One big question on folks’ minds may be “this is so exciting—what’s next?” I think this is the wrong question.

We’ve generated a lot of discussion, but exciting dialogue of this variety (perhaps, though, not in this quantity) has been generated before. Rather than ask what we do next, I want to know what we do first.  And by do I mean DO.  Actively do something that puts the gears of change in motion. Something we can see. Something tangible. Something that actually begins to change the purposes, procedures, and principles that influence leadership and practice in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

20UNDER40: Has Your Voice Become Uncorked?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On October - 23 - 2009

I have spent the better part of this morning and afternoon reading through the comments on this blog salon, and am thrilled at the amount of energy, excitement, and dialogue that this week’s online event has generated. This week alone, we’ve questioned the term “Emerging Leaders”, defined (or attempted to define) what Leadership is, and debated with ourselves whether we have had enough success to really qualify us to lead. On the other side, veteran leaders have told us to stop our whining, complaining, and discussing. We need to start doing our jobs, make ourselves and our communities matter, and start seeing the bigger picture. And – honestly, we need to hear that.

Right now, it seems like we are working in silos. We have silo’d our communities, our art forms (read John Steinmetz’s comment to Edward’s early post), our generations, and in turn – ourselves. The great thing about the 20UNDER40 Project is that it has generated so much discussion and some of these silos are beginning to break down. It’s clear from this weeks’ posts and comments that the arts field needs ALL of the ideas that we ALL bring to the table – the veterans and the emerging leaders. Collectively, we are only as strong as we are individually.

I believe veterans do have the responsibility to mentor and pass down knowledge to the next generation, and not cast generalizations that their younger colleagues are lazy and impatient. I also feel like a great supervisor listens to those around them, and truly values the opinion of their colleagues. On the other side, Generation X and Y should respect the positions of the veteran leaders above them, learn what they can, change what they can, and accept what they can’t change until it’s their turn to jump into the leadership position. This doesn’t mean Generation X and Y can’t be leaders.  (Check out the audio podcast interview I did with Ruby Classen to hear her advice on leading in your organization and community from entry – middle level positions).  It just means that sometimes, you have to wait your turn to affect all the changes. Read the rest of this entry »

Redefining the Brand of Emerging Leaders

Posted by Kathi R. Levin On October - 23 - 2009

Over the last decade the term “emerging leaders” has become the code phrase to use when convening a meeting, reception or forum for anyone employed in the sector who is under 35 with five or less years of experience in the field. Why emerging leaders vs. new arts professionals? What makes an emerging leader an actual leader?

How do we classify mid-career professionals? Aren’t they leaders?

What about veterans in the sector? Are they all leaders? Or are they a combination of leaders, contributors, honest workers, and even, ‘survivors’?

What is the value of a “label”?  Do we really need or want these labels? Do they bring us together, or do they divide us? Is emerging leaders the right “brand” to define this group of arts professionals? Read the rest of this entry »

The Kitchen Cabinet

Posted by Leslie Ito On October - 23 - 2009

In response to Victoria Saunders’ “A Lonely Place to Be,” my advice as a former first-time executive director is to have an (un)official group of advisors. I began the practice of having my own personal board of advisors when I too realized that being an executive director was a lonely, isolating experience. Individually each of these people were mentors to me on various topics and levels. When I needed a partner to brainstorm wacky program ideas and new technologies, I called Anne Bray at LA Freewaves; for public broadcast questions, I emailed Eddie Wong at the Center for Asian American Media. The list goes on and on. I had an amazing network of support which helped in not feeling so isolated.

Since moving on from my position as executive director, my professional and personal needs have changed and my cabinet has evolved to match these needs.  I currently have a vacant spot that I’m trying to fill, a working mom who can lend advice on work/life balance.  Any suggestions?

Do you hold the title of Associate, Coordinator, or Assistant in your organization? Take a listen to the podcast interview I conducted with Ruby Classen, Grants and Services Coordinator at the Greater Columbus Arts Council, where we discuss the challenges of being a low to middle level employee in the Emerging Leader Community.  Ruby offers some great advice to young emerging leaders who want to learn how to lead from the bottom or middle of their organizations.

When are We Safe? How are We Silenced?

Posted by Edward Clapp On October - 23 - 2009

A message in my inbox closes with this line: “…I envy your position as an academic so that you can truly provoke these conversations…”  The author concludes by saying she is cheering me [and all of you] on quietly.

The message before that suggests that many young arts professionals—deviously checking in on this blog from the foxholes of their cubicles—are not safe to participate in this discussion.  The author suggests that my position in academia (one of the hats I wear) allows me to be more outspoken than others.  Though my outspokenness is not without consequence, I do acknowledge that this may very well be the case.  I, however, am not the only emerging leader contributing to this conversation, and perhaps if my job were on the line I’d be a little more guarded concerning what I put out in the world.   Read the rest of this entry »

Insecurity and the Arts: Get Over It (Together)

Posted by Bridget Matros On October - 23 - 2009

Rather than getting sucked into the vortex of divisive generalizations or defensive justifications, I thought perhaps what I could offer is, well, an intervention.

Could everyone come on over and have a seat in the circle? No, you guys split up… ok, ok, let’s count off by two’s, so we don’t have all the under-40’s over here, and the over 40’s over there… Thanks. Take a minute to introduce yourself to your neighbor. Exchange cards. If you’ve been in the field for some time and would be willing to act as mentor/buddy to someone looking for some guidance or a connection, please write “O2M” (open to mentorship) on your card.

Great! Let’s get “present” for a few minutes here so we might be more able to listen well… we can take a deeeeep breath in….aaaand out.

I’m interested in what it is that brings us here, and that seems to cycle back for more attention. And it’s not about “Arts Leadership,” specifically. There is an interpersonal and intra-professional phenomenon here that I think needs some earnest addressing in order for us to coalesce as a field and do the work together that needs to be done. Read the rest of this entry »

From Academia to an Independent Nonprofit Arts Organization

Posted by Charles Jensen On October - 23 - 2009

I worked on two of the nation’s largest college campuses for a grand total of thirteen years. At the University of Minnesota, I cut my teeth in residential life, in community arts programming, even working with a data collection group on a research study. At Arizona State University, I continued my work with residential life, only to migrate into teaching English and creative writing, and then managing and helping to grow Phoenix’s largest community-oriented writing center.

Working in academia has its pluses and minuses. All summer long I enjoyed what amounted to a private city, with restaurants empty at lunch time, wide sidewalks and quads free of pushing and shoving and skateboarders, and on-campus services like the gym and library that seemed to be waiting for me to command them into activity. It’s a stark contrast from the other nine months of the year. Throughout the academic year, students swarm the campus like picnic ants. Waiting for Starbucks was more excruciating than waiting for Godot. And food in the union, when it was even available, was like revenge—always cold and never what you were expecting. On a given day, I was once told, the University of Minnesota gathered 75,000 people, making it the fifth-largest city in the state.

I was frequently reminded of Matthew McCaughnahey’s iconic line about high school students from Dazed and Confused: “I keep getting older, but they stay the same age.” While that was a turn on for him, all it succeeded in doing for me was making me feel old.  Like codger-old. Read the rest of this entry »

Generational Transitions – Making Room for Everyone at the Table

Posted by Kathi R. Levin On October - 22 - 2009

So when are all of those baby boomers working in the nonprofit arts sector going to retire? I keep reading about the fact that they are all retiring and there will be lots of opportunities for those who are younger, and that in fact, there is going to be a great need for new leaders.

Never mind that:

  • Boomers’ retirement funds lost 30-50% of their value, and the very concept of organizations providing retirement dollars in the nonprofit arts sector wasn’t even thought of by the organizations they worked for then, or now, until they were into their ‘30s;
  • These boomers decided to stay in a profession at lower pay when many of their colleagues quit the nonprofit arts sector in their late ‘30s and ‘40s, so now they don’t think that they will be able to afford retirement;
  • The boomers’ kids are struggling to find work if they have finished college, or are in graduate school, and their younger kids are just starting college;
  • Some boomers who would have become CEO’s lost out when it became fashionable a few years ago to hire people who had retired early from the for profit sector to be the new CEO, rather than an experienced, career professional in the arts;
  • It seems that the only boomers who are able to retire are those who worked in state government or higher education which are part of larger retirement plans – rather than independent nonprofits.

I’m sure the boomers can find a few more items to add to the list.

Why would people want to step aside – when they have bills to pay, passion for their work, and years of productivity ahead? Why would they step aside “when they are,” as Degas said on his deathbed,” just starting to get it” (‘it’ meaning a better salary, the opportunity to do the work they have always dreamed of doing, being able to balance personal and professional time after years of long work weeks, or however you define ‘it’)? Read the rest of this entry »

White Horses, Black Hats and Emerging Leaders

Posted by Ramona Baker On October - 22 - 2009

When I was a little girl I would watch cowboys on TV on Saturday mornings. Besides the dust, the visual images I most remember were that the good guys had white horses and the bad guys wore black hats.

This seemed like a great idea to me at the time.  I felt too inexperienced to reach those conclusions on my own, so the fact that someone else decided for me seemed like a great plan. As I acquired more worldly experience I also developed stronger feelings of independence and a much greater desire to reach my own conclusions about everything.

Words, gestures, labels, symbols — their meanings are sometimes so personal that I have no idea what they mean to someone else.  Sometimes they are destructive and other times they become a helpful kind of shorthand. Read the rest of this entry »

Observations About the Emerging Leaders Salon on ARTSblog

Posted by Eric Booth On October - 22 - 2009

Some observations about this set of blog exchanges.

1. Very little heat or disagreement. When Edward introduced 20UNDER40 to a dialogue on NECAP’s (New England Consortium of Arts-Educator Professionals) blog, there was a lot of reactivity against the very notion of the book. It was the most active blog outburst in their history. The anger seemed to come from some over-40 teaching artists who felt under-heard themselves and felt dissed by a book dedicated to younger voices.

Since this AftA blog appears under their Emerging Leaders banner, the participant pool seems much younger, and entirely accepting of Edward’s concept and project. Even the over-40s (I know some of you who are!) who have posted seem in support of the book. This blog-population seems entirely in support of the book.

2. Stephanie Evans at Americans for the Arts has been telling us that the participation in this blog has been extraordinarily high by their norms–not just the number of posts and responses but a huge number of page views that didn’t post messages. Even without controversy or burning issue. This suggests to me that we are looking at a lot of untapped energy around this topic. I have been calling it “a movement” with Edward to try to capture my amazement at the size and quality of the submission response to his call for chapter proposals.

So, young leaders, what are you going to do about it? Read the rest of this entry »